Everett Panhandling Battle Continues

October 21, 2015

Everett, Everett Government

Editor’s note: Here is the revised Aggressive Panhandling ordinance that is causing big debate in Everett.

Panhandling CB 1509-40

At its weekly meeting the Everett City Council Wednesday night heard from citizens who want more action taken against those causing problems on Everett’s streets as well as from those claiming the city is trying to criminalize being homeless.

At issue are revisions to the city’s current aggressive panhandling ordinance. Those include specific definitions to begging, defining aggressive panhandling as “by words or actions, begs with intent to intimidate another person” and defining when someone hinders or obstructs another as: “Hinder or obstruct” means to walk, stand, sit or lie in such a manner as to block or attempt to block or restrict passage by others or to require persons approaching to take evasive action to avoid physical contact.

The city has dropped language first presented two weeks ago that said people could not beg within 50 feet of an ATM, could not ask for money after sunset or before sunrise and could not ask a second time for a donation once someone said no.

During public comment at the city council meeting the Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett told the council that its actions were making it criminal to be homeless in Everett and that the ACLU would likely be challenging the city’s revised ordinance.

Citizen Gary Watt, who owns Z-Sport just north of the Everett Gospel Mission and who has been documenting conditions in the area, told the council the problems are worse than they’ve ever been and warned against the ACLU trying to intimidate the city.

Councilmember Brenda Stonecipher called for this to be the first reading of the ordinance which would have moved the public hearing and full council vote to the first week of November. Her motion was defeated 4 -3 which sets the stage for the public’s last chance to speak on the ordinance next Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 PM with a council vote to follow.

Both councilmembers Murphy and Moore spoke to how the city was not trying to make it a crime to be homeless in Everett.

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